"One flag, one land, one heart, one hand, one nation for evermore!"

This month we celebrate our nation's 241st birthday, and this quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes reminds us of who we need to be.

It's never been easy and it's never been perfect, but we know freedom to be the gem in our crown and we continue to strive to keep it there by upholding the ideals of the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution.

Happy birthday, America!

In keeping with this patriotic theme, the front room in the Cypress Gallery is all "Red, White and Blue."

My favorite pieces in this gathering are "Mother," a charming primitive oil portrait of a saluting woman in uniform by Julia Nash, and a rather pop art drawing (pun intended) of a red and white striped box of popcorn entitled "Admit One," rendered in colored pencil by Mary Whittemore. Tom Chrones, photographer, has entered an action racing photo of a red, white and blue motorcycle and sidecar called "Sidecar." Tonya Romano Schultz's acrylic collage, which she calls "My Country," is colorful and abstract.

The People's Choice award for June was "Trudy Morris' "Bend in the River," done in acrylics. Congratulations, Trudy. Your bright landscape is full of color and calls to many of us.

The main parts of the gallery are filled with skillfully done paintings, drawings, photographs and ceramics by our member artists.

Vicki Andersen's acrylic painting "Santa Barbara Shadows" plays with light and shadow on palm trees and Spanish-styled architecture. I'm drawn to Carol Oliveira's dramatic oil painting "Precipice," and I can't help staring at the vibrant blues and whites in the jagged mountains. Gil Andersen's handmade clay piece titled "Jalama" is created with 12 tiles, painted and fired and Ann Brink's ceramic vases and bowls dot the space.

Cypress Gallery has many gift items made by member artists and artisan crafts persons. You'll find a multitude of handcrafted items priced affordably: small original paintings and prints featuring La Purisima Mission, Lompoc scenes, animals and florals, as well as jewelry, glass pieces, pottery, gourds, textile items and Lompoc souvenirs. In addition, there is an extensive selection of greeting cards for all occasions.

Are you an artist, photographer or artisan craft person? Consider membership the Lompoc Valley Art Association. Applications are available at the gallery and at lompocart.com. The next general meeting will be Aug. 1 at  6:30 p.m. at Stone Pine Hall, 200 South H St. in Lompoc. Join us for refreshments and an artistic presentation.

Cypress Gallery is operated by the members of the Lompoc Valley Art Association and is located at 119 E. Cypress Ave. Hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, noon to 7 p.m. Friday (during Old Town Market) and noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call 737-1129 or visit lompocart.com.